US Open 2021 Stats: 10-year trends point to...

Which golfer best fits the numbers?
Which golfer best fits the numbers?

Dave Tindall looks at the make-up of the last 10 US Open champions to try and find the winner of this year's tournament which starts on 17 June...

"History says you don't go into the US Open searching for your 'A' game. In fact, there is strong evidence that you almost always have to be in good nick to meet the demands of a testing US Open track."

Last year when winning at Winged Foot, Bryson DeChambeau gave the latest reminder that the US Open has become something of a haven for younger, athletic players despite the old-fashioned notion still held by some that you need to be deadly accurate.

In terms of other trends, DeChambeau also ticked plenty of boxes before landing victory at 25/1.

He'd never won a major, was in his twenties and high up the world rankings. He'd also done well in a recent major, another good trend.

Bryson DeChambeau wins US Open.jpg

That US Open was played in September due to the pandemic but, in terms of this preview, it didn't produce anything weird to skew past data.

This year's event is played on the West Coast at Torrey Pines, a familiar track given that it stages the annual Farmers Insurance Open.

However, past results in that event proved a red herring for the vast majority of the high finishers in the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines so I won't be incorporating course form.

So, let the number crunching begin...

For each of the last 10 winners, I've listed the following categories that were correct at the time of their victory - age, world ranking, how many US Opens they'd played, best finish in the event and best result they'd recorded that season.

2020 - Bryson DeChambeau (Age: 27, WR: 9th, Played: 5, US Open Best: 15th, 2020 Best: Win)

2019 - Gary Woodland (Age: 35, WR: 24th, Played: 8, US Open Best: 23rd, 2019 Best: 2nd)

2018 - Brooks Koepka (Age: 28, WR: 9th, Played: 5, US Open Best: 1st, 2018 Best: 2nd)

Brooks-Koepka-1280.jpg

2017 - Brooks Koepka (Age: 27, WR: 22nd, Played: 4, US Open Best: 4th, 2017 Best: 2nd)

2016 - Dustin Johnson (Age: 31, WR: 6th, Played: 8, US Open Best: 2nd, 2016 Best: 3rd)

2015 - Jordan Spieth (Age: 21, WR: 2nd, Played: 3, US Open Best: 17th, 2015 Best: Win)

2014 - Martin Kaymer (Age: 29, WR: 28th, Played: 6, US Open Best: 8th, 2014 Best: Win)

2013 - Justin Rose (Age: 32, WR: 5th, Played: 7, US Open Best: 5th, 2013 Best: 2nd)

2012 - Webb Simpson (Age: 26, WR: 13th, Played: 1, US Open Best: 14th, 2012 Best: 3rd)

2011 - Rory McIlroy (Age: 22, WR: 7th, Played: 2, US Open Best: 10th, 2011 Best: 2nd)

Winners trends

- 7 of last 10 were in their 20s
- 10 of last 10 were aged 35 or under

- 9 of last 10 were ranked in world's top 25

- 8 of last 10 had played in 3 or more US Opens
- 10 of last 10 had played in at least 1 US Open but no more than 8

- 1 of last 10 had won it before
- 6 of last 10 had posted a top 10 in a US Open
- 10 of last 10 had posted a top 25 in a US Open

- 3 of last 10 had already won earlier that season
- 10 of last 10 had posted a top 3 earlier that season

- 9 of last 10 winners were not the defending champion

Most powerful qualification criteria

(All these apply to at least nine of the last 10 winners)

- Aged 35 or under
- Ranked in world's top 25
- Played between 3 and 8 US Opens
- Has had a top 25 in a US Open
- Posted a top 3 earlier that season
- Not the defending champion

Who ticks those boxes?

The above stipulations cull the field quite considerably. Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Casey and Jason Kokrak fail the age test; Cameron Smith, Will Zalatoris, Joaquin Niemann and Tommy Fleetwood aren't in the world's top 25; Rory McIlroy's US Open count is too high (he's played 12), Viktor Hovland, Scottie Scheffler and Abraham Ancer haven't played the event enough times; Webb Simpson, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Sungjae Im and Jon Rahm (hmmm) haven't posted a top three finish this season; DeChambeau is the defending champion.

Spieth at Pebble.jpg

That leaves us with 12 players still running: Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Tyrrell Hatton, Tony Finau, Hideki Matsuyama, Daniel Berger, Billy Horschel and Jordan Spieth.

Current form

History says you don't go into the US Open searching for your 'A' game. In fact, there is strong evidence that you almost always have to be in good nick to meet the demands of a testing US Open track. Here's the next stat:

- Eight of the last 10 US Open winners had made the top 12 in one of their previous three starts

This gets rid of out-of-form Justin Thomas (42-40-MC), Tyrrell Hatton (38-39-18) and Billy Horschel (67-40-23).

Recent majors form

A second stat takes in form in the majors:

- Eight of the last 10 winners had posted a top 10 in one of their two previous majors

The latter could roll back to the previous summer as performance in the US PGA when it was held in August used to be a good pointer to Masters success the following April.

Players still standing who don't have a top 10 in one their last two majors: Patrick Cantlay and Daniel Berger.

Major champions

The history of majors shows certain periods when there was a dominant player or players.

But the talent is spread far more evenly in the current era.

Fifteen of the last 22 majors were won by golfers who hadn't tasted victory in one before.

As for the US Open, it's slightly stronger; seven of the last 10 champions were winning their first major.

So while recent good play in a major is a plus, actually winning one and planting the flag is a negative in terms of adding another.

This produces a real cull and knocks the seven still standing to just five. Out go major winners Morikawa, Koepka, Reed, Matsuyama and Spieth.

Tony Finau - Memorial.JPG

We're left with just two: Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau.

Winning form in America

A simple but strong one. It's not easy to make a major the scene of your first win on American soil.

- Nine of the last 10 US Open winners had previously won on US turf

Perhaps we should call this the Finau Factor. Yes, Big Tone does have a PGA Tour win but that came in Puerto Rico (five years ago). He's yet to win on home American turf so out he goes.

Time to sum up the full list of requirements:

- Aged 35 or under
- Ranked in world's top 25
- Played in at least three US Opens
- Has had a top 25 in a US Open
- Posted a top 3 earlier this season
- Not the defending champion
- Made the top 12 in one of previous three starts
- Recorded a top 10 in one of their two previous majors
- Hasn't won a major
- Has won on American soil

Conclusion

Xander Schauffele is this year's trends selection! The American is 27, world-ranked 6th, has played in four US Opens and made the top six in all of them, is a two-time runner-up this season, finished T11 at Memorial last time, hasn't won a major and is a multiple winner on American soil.

He's 2423/1 on the Betfair Exchange to take victory.

XANDER SCHAUFFELE.jpg

Now back to the "hmmm" comment next to Jon Rahm. The Spaniard would also have qualified had he converted his 54-hole six-shot lead at Memorial.

However, seven of the last 10 US Open winners were American while eight of the last 10 were priced over 20/1. Rahm is just 13.012/1.

Therefore, Xander Schauffele - the man who just happens to be from San Diego and played his first rounds at Torrey Pines when still in high school - is the pick.

For the record, he had miserable course form to begin with, missing four cuts in five attempts, but finished runner-up there earlier this year.

He said last week: "Recently I haven't played it much, I've been kind of waiting for the course to get into tournament shape for the US Open to not get too acclimated to the wrong conditions."

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